Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Day For You

   God made a day of the week for you.


This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24


 Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.  Exodus 20:8-11


   What, you don’t own any slaves?  How about employees?  Do you think that would fit the spirit of God’s command?


   Nobody owns our Sabbath, our Sunday, but God.  It is a holiday, a holy day.  And, he has given it to us to glorify God.

   How do we glorify God?  There are many ways, and God knows what our real intentions are when we do them.

   We respond to what God has done and is doing for us in worship with God’s people.

   The Holy Spirit draws us together for worship on this day.  Hearing and doing the work of the Spirit is what makes us Christians, rather than Christists (doers only), or Christophiles (hearers only).

   We are the community of God’s people, the corporate Body of Christ.  We are a new creation in Jesus Christ.  Sunday is our day for re-newal and re-creation in his Spirit.


17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 2 Corinthians 5:17


   Come and worship the living God with us this Sunday. Come and worship with us this Sunday at Faith Lutheran Church at 8:30 a.m. or at 10:00 a.m.  We’re located at 505 East Bonita Avenue (one-half block east of the Post office) in San Dimas. 

   Find more information at  Contact me at or at 909 599-3978 if you have any questions.

Breakfast On The Beach

   Have you ever gone fishing and caught nothing?  Have you ever invested in a relationship and received nothing?  Have you ever been disappointed with God?

   Jesus’ disciples had experienced all those things.  Jesus had died, appeared to them twice in his resurrected body, and that was it.  Their hope for a Messiah or a revolution, or something had disappeared.  Three years with Jesus shot. 

   Many of them went to their comfort zone, back home, to commercial fishing as they had done before Jesus had called them to come and follow him (John 21:1-19).

   They fished all night with no results. 

   Then, at dawn, Jesus appeared on the shore and told them to throw a net on the other side of the boat.  It sounds funny, but they did it and caught 153 fish! 

   Jesus was waiting for them with a fire and fish and bread for breakfast on the beach.

   Jesus had not abandoned them.  He had met them where they were.  He had provided nourishment for them so that they might live truly.

   This is the risen Christ. 

   He is alive among us, the tired, the failed and the discouraged Christian community.  He calls us to himself to be re-energized and sent again into the world in his presence and in his name.

   Peter, who denied Jesus three times is forgiven and sent to proclaim Jesus three times.

 All are called to follow Jesus again, nourished from within.  Jesus is alive and is present within and among us.  We are fed with the Spirit, we are nourished at His table.

   Jesus said, to the Devil, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

   Jesus is alive and at work in our hearts.  Know Jesus, know life.

   Come and worship God for all that he has done for us this Sunday at Faith Lutheran Church at 8:30 a.m. or at 10:00 a.m.  We’re located at 505 East Bonita Avenue (one-half block east of the Post office) in San Dimas. 

   Find more information at  Contact me at or at 909 599-3978 if you have any questions.

What Would Jesus Eat?

   I was walking around the tables, talking with the families who were lingering after a recent epic and legendary potluck lunch at Faith Lutheran Church, when one of the dads called me over.

   “Did Jesus eat vegetables?”, he asked?

   “That’s an interesting question,” I said.  “I’ll have to do some research on that one.”

   “My son and I were at the food table and I told him he had to take some raw vegetables,” the dad replied.  “He said, ‘Jesus didn’t eat vegetables.’”

   Ah, the beginning of theology!

   I think carrots were in question, specifically.

   So, I did some research and found, as I expected, that there were some references to Jesus eating and drinking in the Bible but that, in addition to those, he probably ate the food that was common at the time.

   Pomegranates, fish, honey, olive oil, olives, grapes, figs, vinegar, lamb and bread were likely part of his diet, as well as possibly figs, lentils, whole grains, and nuts.  Some people ate grasshoppers and crickets for snacks or for survival.  John the Baptist did!  But, no carrots.

   That would not, in my opinion, give the boy an exemption.

   The most important thing about Jesus is not how Jesus lived, or what he taught, or even what he ate. 

   The most important thing about Jesus, fully God and fully human being, is that he died to restore the relationship between us and God for which we were created.  That relationship changes everything.

   Would you like to find out more about Jesus and the personal relationship he offers you?  Come and worship with us this Sunday at Faith Lutheran Church at 8:30 a.m. or at 10:00 a.m.  We’re located at 505 East Bonita Avenue (one-half block east of the Post office) in San Dimas. 

   Find more information at  Contact Pastor Berkedal at or at 909 599-3978 if you have any questions.


   When Jesus went to worship on the sabbath, which the Bible says “was his custom” (Luke 4:16), the synagogue service had a structure.

   There was a gathering time, a time for reading and interpreting the scripture, and a sending time.

   Among liturgical churches like ours and most of the churches on the planet, the structure is the same today with one exception.  We add a meal between the Word and the sending: Holy Communion.

   In the pre-Christian Greek world “liturgy” meant a religious service offered by a rich patron.  In the Christian world, it became the work of the people.

   Liturgical worship is not about us.  It’s about God.

   There is nothing better than to be in God’s presence among God’s people.  It’s is God’s gift to us.  

   But, the world is mighty good at persuading people that their personal enjoyment is better, that where they worship is a consumer decision, that God won’t mind if they miss worship, that worship is boring, that we are better off finding God on our own.

   We do not worship alone.  We are made for relationship, and Christianity is about relationships with God and, as a consequence, our local Christian community and, therefore, with the whole Church on earth.  Worship is a relational event.  When we aren’t there, our community’s worship is diminished.  It harms our community and it harms us.

   Liturgical worship isn’t fun.  It is work, the most edifying and important work of our week.

   When we come to the end of a congregational worship service the question the world would have us ask is, “What did I get out of that?”  The question the worshiping community is called to ask is, “How did I do?”

   The odd thing is that be when our worship is directed to the living God, we discover who we truly are, who we were made to be.  It is one paradox of many in the Christian life that we are what we give, not what we get. 

   Worship is an expression of that paradox.  We know God’s presence when we seek God’s face and not our own. 

   Would you like to experience the worship of God? 

   Come and worship with us this Sunday at Faith Lutheran Church at 8:30 a.m. or at 10:00 a.m.  We’re located at 505 East Bonita Avenue (one-half block east of the Post office) in San Dimas.  Find more information at  Contact Pastor Berkedal at or at 909 599-3978 if you have any questions.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

   Have you heard radio and TV announcers who build excitement for Sunday drag races with manufactured emotion: “Sunday!  Sunday!  Sunday!”?

   When you hear it do you think, “Yes! Worship!”?

   The trailer for the movie “Concussion” includes a scene where the hero, Dr. Bennet Omalu, who is trying to persuade the National Football League regarding the dangers of repeated head trauma, is cautioned “You’re going to war with a corporation that owns a day of the week.”  

   Has football become the equivalent of shared public worship?

   Youth sports have long removed our children from worship for sport.  This year they took two of our families away on Easter Sunday.

   We in the church are again living counter culturally in the pattern of our lives.

   Sunday is their personal Funday for many.

   We believe that God has given us a day, a Sabbath, to rest and to enjoy the goodness of God’s presence with God’s people, to worship God in Christian communities, to know his presence in unfiltered glory and, because we recognize and worship God in communal worship, to be prepared to see, hear, and follow him the rest of the week.

   Come and worship with us this Sunday at Faith Lutheran Church at 8:30 a.m. or at 10:00 a.m.  We’re located at 505 East Bonita Avenue (one-half block east of the Post office) in San Dimas.  Find more information at  Contact Pastor Berkedal at or at 909 599-3978 if you have any questions.

Friday, April 8, 2016

It's Enough

   I swam at the 36th annual (my 19th as a participant) Swim With Mike event last Saturday to raise funds for athletes who become physically challenged so that they can complete their education.  It was founded at USC by Mike Nyeholt after he was paralyzed from the neck down in a motorcycle accident. 

   Mike was a three-time All-American swimmer at USC, and his teammates held a fundraiser called “Swim For Mike”, in order to purchase a specially equipped van for him.   

   They raised more than was needed, so Mike asked that the additional money be put in a fund for other athletes who become physically challenged.  And he said that if they would do an event the following year, he would pull himself across the pool to help raise money for the fund. 

   By the next year, Mike had regained the use of his upper body.  He and Ron Orr, currently Senior Associate Athletic Director at USC, established the fund and “Swim With Mike” events began. Today, events are held all over the country.

    Swim With Mike has raised over $17 million dollars and has granted 187 scholarships to athletes in 60 sports at 91 universities.  For the past several years, they have raised over a million dollars at the day’s event.  You can find more information at

   I waited at the edge of the pool for a woman to make her turn before I jumped in to swim my laps.  As she was swimming away I noticed that she was wearing only one swim fin.  Then I saw that she only had one complete leg.

   I had to push myself a little bit to keep up with her.

   Later, I saw that she had been a recipient of one of the Swim With Mike scholarships.

   That experience reminded me of two things.

   First, that when I don’t feel like going to a workout, or if my little aches and pains make me wonder if I don’t have a good excuse not to be in the pool, that people are adjusting to much greater challenges and doing amazing things.

   Second, it reminded me that it’s not lamenting what we don’t have, but doing what we can with what we do have that is the best stewardship. 

   For us, this means that what glorifies God is not wanting something more, but seeking what more we can do with what God has given us to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

   This messed-up world may not give us what we want.  But, what comes from God is always enough to do what God has called us to do.

   Would you like to know more about trusting God?  Come and worship with us this Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or at 10:00 a.m.  Contact us with questions at or at 909 599-3978.  Learn more about us at

Actual Reality

   I saw a lot of April Fools Day pranks last week. 

   Some of them were really funny, and some of them were just, well, mean. 

   My favorite, however, came as a video press release from Google.  It announced that Google was releasing a new product, “Actual Reality Glasses”. 

   The “product” was actually goggles with large clear plastic lenses.

   The video showed people walking around with looks on their faces like, “Wow! Everything looks so real!”, and “I feel like I could just reach out and touch it!”  One person says in awe, “I can hear everything perfectly”.

   They weren’t virtual reality glasses, they were Actual Reality Glasses!

   We actually get those when we surrender our hearts to Jesus.  We can’t see things as they are until God reveals them to us.  We can only see the appearance of things.

   We can’t come to God, or have faith, or be saved by ourselves.

   Seeing isn’t believing.  Believing is a way of seeing.

   Things only get real when we open our hearts to what God is doing, and follow Jesus.

   That’s Actual Reality.

   Would you like to know more about the world as it is?  Come and worship with us this Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or at 10:00 a.m.  Contact us with questions at or at 909 599-3978.  Learn more about us at

Easter Victory Over What?

   Theologian and ethicist H. Richard Niebuhr once critiqued some in the American Church of 1937 as subverting the Bible’s message of salvation, teaching that, “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”

   Easter Sunday has come and gone, and the Easter Season has begun.  Easter Victory! 

   Victory?  Victory over what? 

   For some in our own time, nothing at all.

   What can Easter mean to a world uncomfortable with sin, or repentance, or a need for conversion from the old life to a new birth?

   How can the good news mean something if there is no bad news to overcome?

   Most people already know something is wrong or that they are dissatisfied with their lives, but they can’t express it until they open their hearts and admit some painful realities. 

   Maybe addiction is a better metaphor for our powerlessness over sin and our need for a Savior.  12-step programs like AA were begun by a Lutheran pastor and follow the gospel process of conversion.

   Read past our Easter Gospel lesson in Luke 24 and you will find these words of Jesus, “‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

   Repentance and forgiveness.

   To repent is to turn around and walk with Jesus.   It puts us on the path of real life as God intended in this world, and eternal life in its perfection after death.  That’s the good news.  That is the Easter Victory won for us by Jesus.

   For what do you need to repent?  For what do you need forgiveness? 

   Pray about it today, talk to Jesus.  Trust Jesus.  Turn from sin and experience new life!  It’s been won for you, the Easter Victory!

   Contact us at or 909 599-3978 to talk about trusting Jesus.  Go to our website at for more info about us.  Come and worship with us this Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or at 10:00 a.m. to experience more about the new life in Jesus Christ.

Terror All Around

   Maundy Thursday is day in Holy Week that gets no respect.
   It’s the day before Good Friday when the main event takes.  It’s the “second place finisher on American Idol” of the church year.

   Yet, this hear especially, it has its place as a day of great drama when we remember the institution of Holy Communion, the commandment (Maundy is an Old English word for commandment) to love one another, and the stripping of the chancel of all decoration as a visual reminder of the humiliation of Jesus before he was tortured.
   This year it comes in the shadow of the 30 dead and 230 injured in Brussels, and the 37 dead and 100+ injured in Ankara and in Istanbul Turkey, and the uncounted victims of terrorism just days before and the at least 4 dead in Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday.
   It is a reminder that God didn’t just enter into life in an abstract sense.  God entered into our suffering.

   And does so to suffer intentionally, and die, for his enemies as well as his friends.

Love God and Do

   “Love God, and do what you will,” said Augustine of Hippo (354-430), a theologian and leader of the Early Church.

   This is the freedom of the Christian life.

   It means living from the inside-out. 

   It means that when we love God, we will want to do what pleases God.  We have accepted God’s gift of God’s-self.  What we want is to follow God.

   It means accepting Jesus, who is God, and rejecting the world that defies God.

   It means living a new life as a new creation, as a child of God with the people of God.  It means living in a new birth.

   Come and worship with us this coming Holy Week leading up to Easter (Palm Sunday: 8:30 a.m. or 10:00 a.m., Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday at 7:00 p.m., and Easter Sunday: 6:00 a.m., 8:30 a.m. or 10:00 a.m.). 

   Come and encounter the central event of salvation history: the gift of God in Jesus Christ on the cross that leads to new life.
   You can find more specific information on our web site at

Old Spice to Holy Week

   I was looking for some cologne to put in my gym bag a few months ago.

   I wanted something cheap, uh inexpensive, in a plastic bottle, that smelled good but was not too pretentious.

   Sally and I were looking at Target and found a bottle of Old Spice.  It met all of my qualifications.  What totally sold me, though, was the slogan on the box, “If your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist.”

   That made sense to me.  My grandfather had used Old Spice.  I should be grateful. 

   I bought it.

   Jesus was at a dinner that his friends had given for him as he passed through town on his way to Jerusalem for what would be the last time.

   When Mary cracked open a bottle of perfume (“pure nard”) to anoint Jesus feet, she hadn’t gone to Target.  She’d gone to Beverly Hills.  John (John 12:1-8) puts the cost of the perfume at “300 denarii.” 

   One denarius was the day’s wage for a day laborer, not necessarily unskilled.  If we put that wage at $10.00, times 8 hours for a day, times 300, that comes to $24,000.00 in today’s dollars.  That’s some expensive perfume in any age!

   She had bought it for his burial and was pouring it on him while he was still alive.  She was expressing her love for him, not by buying flowers for his funeral but by pouring them out in ointment form when he could still smell them.

   Her extravagance was a response to his extravagant love, poured out for the ransom of human kind.   No price can be put on that.  Jesus said, “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  Matthew 26:28 

   Join us next week, Holy Week, as we walk with Jesus down that road to the day of his death, on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday.   Come and experience the ultimately extravagant gift of God for us.

   Go to our web site at and scroll down for details.

Eighth Commandment Politics


   Politics, especially elections, have often been a nasty business.

   What is different today is that our many platforms for communication have produced a hunger for information to feed a 24-hour news cycle. 

   What used to be said behind closed doors is now said in public.  What was once crass is now necessary in order to make it to the top of the news hour, or the half-hour, or the 5-minute news break.

   Politics has become a spectacle, newsworthy in itself, independent from the civil society it is intended to serve.

   God has given us commandments to help us live a better way.

   How much better would our world be if politicians kept the 8th one?  That is, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  Who is our neighbor?  Everyone in need of our neighborliness.  (Luke 10:25-37)

   What does that mean for politics?

   Martin Luther, the 16th century church reformer, defined its meaning as being that “we are to fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations.  Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.”

   What if our culture supported and voted for politicians based on their positons on the issues, especially related to people in greatest need, and assisted them and held them and their parties accountable for those positions once they are elected to office?

   What if we viewed the way they treated others running for the same office as one of those issues?


Swimming in the Rain

   I went swimming in the rain yesterday. 
   The hardest part about swimming in the rain is getting into the pool.  The second hardest part is getting out.  The actual swimming part is actually quite pleasant, and not that different from swimming when it is not raining. 
   You can’t get any more wet.

   Baptism is like that. 
   Martin Luther, the 16th century church reformer wrote in his Small Catechism that the significance of baptism is that the old person in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned and die through daily sorrow for sin (note: sin separates us from God) and through repentance (note: changing one’s mind), and on the other hand that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up to live before God in righteousness and purity (note: both are gifts from God) forever.  Romans 6:4

   Accepting the gift is the hardest part. 
   Failing to live into our Baptism is easy, but it’s also hard on us.  Actually living Baptismly wet is a gift from God. 
   It is the life that starts its eternity now, in all its imperfection, when we are baptized and is brought by God to perfection in the life to come.

   Would you like to consider Baptism?  Come to our 10:00 a.m. worship service tomorrow and see what one is like.  Click for directions.  Go to to learn more about Holy Baptism.  

   Then PM me or call me at 909 599-3978 to discuss it. 


Water Menu

   Sally and I were at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on our day off a couple of weeks ago and had lunch at their indoor/outdoor restaurant, Ray’s.

   It is a nice restaurant, not terribly expensive, with excellent service.  The first thing I noticed as we sat down was the water menu.

   That’s right, a water menu.

   Before you order food, you may choose a bottle of water from various places around the world.  The menu gives you the water’s country of origin, mineral content, suggested pairings with food (yes, you read that right too), and price.  My favorite name was that of a domestic water, Beverly Hills 90H2O.

   We decided that the water menu was there not to sell water, primarily, but to sell the restaurant as a toney and exclusive place for foodies.  I don’t know if “wateries” is a thing.

   It also seemed to me to be a metaphor for sin and grace.

   We are baptized with water, the most common element in the world.  In it, all who believe are given freedom from sin, from death and from the forces that defy God.  It is not exclusive, it is inclusive.  It is not too costly for most people, it is the free gift of God for all people.  There is now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ.  (Romans 8:1).

   It is a judgement against us that we prefer our own efforts, in our own lives, to succeed by our own standards.  We have nowhere to turn when we don’t measure up, when we realize that our lives are inescapably polluted.

   Instead, we have a Savior in Jesus Christ.  We don’t need to select our savior from a menu.  There is only one, and he has chosen us. 

     Mark 16:16

   Would you like to consider Baptism?  Click here: to learn more.  

   Then PM me or call me at 909 599-3978 to discuss it. 


Go Baptism

   When is a door not a door?  When it’s ajar.

   I think I first read that joke on a Bazooka Bubble Gum wrapper.

   When is water not water?  In Baptism, when it’s used in accord with God’s command and connected with God’s word.

   I’m pretty sure I first learned that from Martin Luther.  J

   What’s that Word?

   “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”  Matthew 28:19

   That’s also the command.  No joke.

   Would you like to consider Baptism?  Go…to to learn more.  

   Then PM me or call me at 909 599-3978 to discuss it. 

God Sees The Heart

   Whenever Sally and I are in Los Angeles, we try to stop at the Nate ‘N Al Delicatessen.
It’s “Old Hollywood” and you might still see a celebrity, who everyone leaves alone. It’s that kind of place.

   We were there the other day and as we were leaving, David Crosby (of Crosby, Stills and Nash, and later Young) looked up, looked at my Sally-braided beard, smiled and nodded.

   Later in the day, we were at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. We were talking with one of the
guards who felt comfortable enough to say, “You know, I have a pair of scissors in my purse, and I could just cut that thing off.”

   I said, “You’ll have to get in line”.

   Our appearances all make cultural statements.

   It’s important to understand them, but God goes beyond them.

   God sees the heart.

   1 Samuel 16:7b

Hearers & Doers

   Sally and I were at the Huntington Library on our day off a couple of weeks ago.

   After touring the grounds and examining some of the beautiful art work, we stopped at the gift shop on our way out.

   I picked up a very small book by Benjamin Franklin entitled, “The Way to Wealth”.

   Its literary device is to tell a story of a wise man who comes to a small town square, gathers a crowd, and instructs them with things like being thrifty, working hard, self-control, etc. as the way to wealth.

   When he is finished, Franklin writes, the people “approved the doctrine, and immediately practiced the contrary, just as if it had been a common sermon;”

   I actually was comforted by the thought that I’m not the only one. 

   Even St. James had to write “But be doers of he word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.”  James 1:22

   We live and act by faith

What's Most Important?

   What is most important for us in 2016?  What is the first thing that comes to mind?

   I think many, if not most, of us would say “world peace”.

   We are very good at knowing the right things to say.  Ask any beauty contestant.  But that is not always what we really want to live for.

   That’s why my hero Lyle Schaller says that when you ask a congregation, “What do me need more of around here?”,  The answer is always “Bible Study!”

   But when another Bible Study is prepared, the faithful who come to everything are the only one’s who show up.

   Do we know what we we want, what we would place a the center of our lives and turn to in times of need,?

   Jesus is the way that leads to all good thing.   We respond naturally to God’s sacrifice on the cross with an absolute desire to please God.  

   That’s a life lived with importance.


Our Christmas Story

   Christmas is a time that we are reminded of God’s love for all people, and of our call to be witnesses to that love.

   We can, like the shepherds, move from an experience of God to sharing the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, from being recipients of ministry to being givers of ministry.

   We can, like the angels, point others to Jesus and communicate the love of God by work and deed.

   We can, like the Wisemen, bear our gifts and live holy lives in response to what God has already done for us.

   And most of all we can, like Mary and Joseph, be faithful and obedient to God’s call to be His witnesses for Jesus Christ, God made flesh for the world’s sake.

   May this Christmas be a time of growth and renewal as we shift away from the demands of this world and toward celebrating the gifts of God for living abundant lives.


El Nino

   One of my favorite Halloween costumes this year was the one with the massive, grey, fluffy head gear fitted with interior lighting and drip-irrigation hoses.  

   The lights flashed to resemble lightening.  Streams of water flowed.  It was worn by a little child.  El Nino!

   Rain is on our minds this season.  What will the winter bring?  Will we be prepared?

   The end of history is on our minds this end-of-the-Church-Year Pentecost season.  When will God’s Judgement come?  Will we be prepared?

   We are best prepared by being who we are in Jesus Christ.  We are called to remain steadfast.  To expose the works of darkness, not fear them.

   We have work to do as God’s people today.

   We do not fear the spiritual storms of the future. 

   We have built our spiritual homes on the rock that is Jesus.


In But Not Of

Text Box:
   One of the things I liked best about Pope Francis’s recent visit was that his speeches included positions that, in some cases made those on the political left happy, and, in other cases, made those on the political right happy.

   They did not fit one party line or ideology.

   Christians do not fit into the categories of this world.

   We belong on a spectrum of belief that is defined and given by God.

   We have good news to bring to this world, as well as prophetic words of conditional judgement.

   In Christ, we are in this world, but not of it.  (John 17:16)

   As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, Pope Francis served as a reminder that what binds Christians together is not our conformity to this world, but by our transformed nature through God’s gift to us all of Jesus Christ on the Cross.